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Spencer Ivy Spencer electric bike



Competent electric town bike in fully utility garb, but not cheap

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Spencer Ivy are new on the e-bike scene - and the bike scene generally - and the Spencer is one of their two models for this year; no prizes for guessing what the ladies' bike is called. It's big on utility with a classically urban look, and it's a decent ride to boot.

Aluminium framed and forked, the Spencer would look more or less like a classic gent's bike with the electronics removed. Those electronics are a Panasonic 250W hub motor powered by a 10Ah Lithium Ion battery; Spencer Ivy are investigating whether it would be cost-effective to have the power unit in black for next season; as it is the big silver battery stands out a bit although I wouldn't say the bike was ugly. It's a crank motor system so all the electronics are housed - save for the bar-mounted control - in a single box behind the seat tube. this allows the Spencer to run a standard gearing setup, in this case an Alfine 8-speed hub.

The Spencer scores well on kit and accessories. As well as the Alfine you get XT V-brakes, and a Shimano Dynohub to the fore that runs Busch and Muller lights front and rear. There's full mudguards, a kickstand, a nurse's lock and a Pletscher rear rack too, as well as a chain case to keep your best togs free of oil. The 19" frame (one size only) will be fine as long as you're no taller than me (6'3") or shorter than about 5'8". The position is nice and upright for town riding; you wouldn't want to do more than 10 miles on the Spencer but it's fine for those shorter urban errands.

The motor system drives the cranks at the bottom bracket. This type of system has been slower to gain ground because it requires bike manufacturers to completely redesign their frames, it's not a bolt-on solution like a hub motor. however it has the benefit of being compact and keeping all the electrics in one place, and it gives the option of a hub gear as used here, which isn't possible with a driven rear hub.

There's a bit of play in the system when you step on the pedals but away from the lights you get an instant kick which is really handy in town traffic. Spinning the Spencer up to cruising speed is simple and once there the motor does a decent job of propelling you along without fuss. It's less choppy than other systems I've tried, and a lot of the time you won't even notice it's on.

Point the Spencer up a hill and most of the time it'll get you to the top without breaking a sweat. I say most of the time because there's certain scenarios where the torque sensing doesn't really seem to get what's going on. Point the bike up a steep hill and drop the gears and it'll happily chug to the top, but on a slight incline the motor sometimes seems to underestimate the help you want, meaning that if you drop down through the gears you just slow to a crawl. Change to a harder gear and give the pedals a kick and it seems to bring the motor back to life a bit. if you're buying an electric bike, though, you're not looking to make life more difficult. It's only an occasional glitch, but annoying when it happens.

My other main gripe was with the bar-mounted control unit, which on the test bike was a complete ergonomic disaster. However, the new bikes have a different panel which I saw at the London Bike Show and it addresses all the issues I'd noted, so I've been done out of a rant there.

Range-wise Spencer Ivy claim you can get 50 miles out of the battery, which may or may not be the case; I used the bike mainly on the middle of the three power settings and got nearly 30 miles out of a charge, which is pretty good. It's unlikely you'd want to do more than that in one go on a bike of this nature and the range is better than many bikes I've tried. To charge you slip the battery out and plonk it in the charger overnight; there's a charge level indicator on both the battery and the bar unit. run out of juice and the bike is perfectly rideable, if a bit sluggish.


£1,895 is a fair outlay but here you're getting a competent electic bike in full utility garb. The Panasonic crank motor isn't as refined as the Bosch unit but it does a decent job and helps to keep the price reasonable. If you need a helping hand and want full-on utility the Spencer lacks the overall capacity of a cargo bike but it's well-specced and easy to ride. Pretty good for a first effort.

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Make and model: Spencer Ivy Spencer electric bike

Size tested: Black, 50cm

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Colour: Glossy black

Frame: 50cm/ 19.7 inches; lightweight aluminium

Gears: Shimano Alfine 8 speed internal hub gears with rapid shifters

Brakes: Shimano Deore XT

Battery: Removable Panasonic Lithium-ion 26volt 10 AH

Motor: High performance Panasonic 250watt brushless mid-mounted

Additional Features:

– Shimano dynamo hub powering Busch & Muller front and rear LED lights

– Continental puncture-resistant TopContact tyres, with reflective strip for visibility

– Selle Royal gel comfort saddle

– Pletscher EasyFix rear carrier with spring hinges

– ABUS frame lock

– Rear kick-stand

– Colour coded chain guard and mud guards

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Our commuter bicycle offers the very best in electric bicycle technology with sleek city styling. Fitted with a maintenance free Panasonic motor that powers every turn of the pedal, and with three levels of assistance, you can choose exactly how hard you want the bicycle to work.

The battery will give you up to 50 miles of assistance before it needs recharging - enough for the longest commute or leisure ride.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Solidly built but not the highest quality finish.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Aluminium throughout

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

You only get one size to choose from, if was fine for me (6'3") but you wouldn't want to be any taller, or shorter than about 5'8"

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Very comfortable, upright position giving a good view in traffic

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Electric bikes tend to feel a little vague and this one's no exception, plenty of nip when the motor kicks in though

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No issues

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Very well behaved, fairly low bottom bracket means it's stable and the steering is easy and fairly direct

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The drivetrain

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Wheels and tyres

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Your verdict

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, most of the time

Would you consider buying the bike? No, I'd go Cargo if I was buying electric

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, if it suited their needs

Rate the bike overall for performance:
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Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 38  Height: 190cm  Weight: 98kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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Tim 50cycles | 12 years ago

Peak power output is at 56rpm, assistance then gradually decreases to zero at 71rpm, with factory gearing anyway. Assistance starts from the moment the pedals begin to turn, which means very steep hill starts are easy.

pickles | 13 years ago

Sorry  9 - I see that it is at the top of the review. 23100 grams.

Or perhaps 0.0231 tonnes.

pickles | 13 years ago

It's great to know that Dave weighs 98kg, but I'd rather know how much the BIKE weighs.

I believe that the issue of climbing and more power arriving with a heavier gear may be related to the fact that the motor trips on when cadence gets below a certain level (around 70 rpm). Since that is quite a low cadence (particularly for a sporty cyclist climbing) it is not surprising that the power is switching off when going up hill.

Tim 50cycles | 13 years ago

Hi Tony, sure, which model would you like to try and where should we send it? The Pro Connect Disc pictured comes with the 18Ah battery and I will have on here in London in a couple of weeks.

We also have a very tasty new 27-speed BionX-based model with energy recuperation coming out next month, a new direction for Kalkhoff that no other UK publication has tested yet.

tim [at]

dave atkinson | 13 years ago

And if i can get 87 miles out of it, I promise to buy one  1

Tony Farrelly | 13 years ago

Hi Tim,

Maybe you'd like to contact our commercial department before posting your ad in future.

And maybe you'd like to send us one of the models mentioned above so we can evaluate your claims?

Tim 50cycles | 13 years ago

If classic style bikes aren't your cup of Earl Grey, sportier models based on the Panasonic power assistance system are also available.

We've been importing Kalkhoff's electric bikes since 2007 and they've established themselves as firm favourites here in the UK with several thousand owners. They've also picked up five-star reviews from ExtraEnergy in Germany (taking the top spot in two categories), the German AA and electric bike specialist magazine AtoB here in the UK.

You can pick up an Agattu, with similar spec to the Spencer Ivy bikes, from £1395, or the sportier Pro Connect for £1895 (below), which comes with Alfine hub gears, disc brakes, the new 18Ah battery (which gives a range up to a whopping 87 miles) and a total weight of about 22kg.

They're all available to test ride around Richmond Park or along the Thames from our London electric bike showroom, one of the few bicycle shops with an open fire, courtyard garden and a very long hill outside.

cat1commuter | 13 years ago

This morning I found it a bit of an effort overtaking another commuter on a hefty bike, but as I passed him I noticed that he was riding an electric bike, so then I didn't feel so bad!

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